- The Billy Jack character was a Native American ex-Green Beret vigilante
- The low-budget "Billy Jack" became a box-office blockbuster in 1971
- The film was criticized for its message that violence was an answer to injustice
Tom Laughlin, the actor who wrote and starred in the "Billy Jack" films of the 1970s, died Thursday, his family confirmed Sunday. He was 82.
Laughlin's Billy Jack character was a heroic Native American ex-Army Green Beret who used his karate skills to fight racism and oppression.
The second of the series -- titled "Billy Jack" -- was a low-budget independent film that became a box-office blockbuster in 1971. Laughlin's vigilante character defends a counterculture "Freedom School" from townspeople who harass and discriminate against the Native American students.
The film was criticized by those who saw its central theme as a message that violence was an answer to injustice.